On the “Running to Stand Still” episode of The CW drama series The Flash, it may be Christmas time, but nothing will stop the Rogues from taking over when Mark Mardon, aka The Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre), breaks Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), and James Jesse, aka The Trickster (Mark Hamill), out of Iron Heights. They team up to attempt to bring down The Flash (Grant Gustin), but when everybody is working for their own agenda, nothing ever turns out as planned.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Liam McIntyre talked about how exciting it is to get to play a supervillain, being a big nerd himself, why Mark Mardon thinks his actions are justified, why The Weather Wizard wants to stop The Flash, that the Rogues aren’t exactly at a place yet where they can get along, the surreal experience of working with Wentworth Miller and Mark Hamill, how his powers are evolving, and working with the special effects on this show.
Collider: We last spoke after you had joined Spartacus, which you were great on. Now, it’s so fun to watch you causing some very different trouble on The Flash.
LIAM McINTYRE: I know! It’s so much fun. I can’t tell people how much fun it is to be a super-villain. Being a villain is cool, but being a supervillain is a different level of exciting, especially The Weather Wizard. I keep getting worried, with every episode, that they’ll put too many powers in there and not be able to afford doing the effects for me anymore.
Were you previously a comic book fan, before doing this show?
McINTYRE: I’m a pretty big nerd. That’s something I was trying to keep under wraps during the Spartacus days when I was trying be the tough gladiator. I couldn’t be like, “Yay, comic books!” I brought my PlayStation to Bulgaria with me, while I’m filming a movie, because why not? It’s a bit of a dream come true. It’s unbelievably exciting.
When you got this role, did you always know that there was a change that you could be returning, or had you just talked about that one episode?
McINTYRE: We only talked about that episode, but in talking about it with Greg [Berlanti] and Andrew [Kreisberg], I was like, “I don’t really want to just show up once.” But in researching it, I realized that he’s one of the cooler Rogues. I would have been really sad, if he had been a one-trick villain. Now, we keep bringing him back and it’s worked out, so it’s great.
Do you see Mark Mardon as a villain, or do you see him as someone who’s misunderstood?
McINTYRE: He’s Spartacus, when you see him from the Roman side. Somebody killed his brother. He’s not the best egg, as it were, but they killed his brother. That’s not nothing. One of the things Spartacus taught me, as a show, was that through good writing and good performances, you should like the villains. A lot of actors say that no villain wants to be a villain, generally. They don’t might being evil, maybe, but they have an agenda that they can justify. Otherwise, a little bit of that tension goes, if you’re just a villain and everyone hates you because you’re mean. The heroes journey, like for The Flash or for Spartacus, is harder to achieve because the villain doesn’t make you work for it, in the same way. You’ve got to beat them because you wouldn’t look cool, if you didn’t. Captain Cold is a wonderful example. Obviously, he’s a bad guy, but sometimes he does good things. He’s got a really selfish agenda, but he’s also helpful sometimes. It just makes it harder for you to support the hero blindly and it makes the hero have to be more heroic to get you on board, which is cool. Not that The Weather Wizard is completely sophisticated, but I’d like to think that he really has an agenda that he needs to achieve to make his life right. From that, all of these awful things happen. One of the hardest parts of playing a villain is finding out how you, as a person, can be like, “Yeah, this is totally the right decision. A tsunami that destroys the city? A hundred percent, what I’d do. Totally the right choice.” It’s important to be that angry or that upset, and now that you have this power that you’re still getting a handle on, like The Hulk, this is what happens because I have this power that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to use. It’s interesting.
What can you say about this next episode, “Running to Stand Still,” and why Mark Mardon is wreaking havoc at Christmas time?
McINTYRE: Well, people are always vulnerable when they’re happy. One of the cool things about Mark Mardon and one of the things I like about the episode is that it’s a formative Rogues, starting to work out how working together might feel. You get this wonderful tension between Leonard Snart and Mark Mardon. Mark comes on thinking, “Yeah, you’re a tactical genius, but I’m the boss!” But, not really. So, you get this wonderful tension. Mark, from his point of view, is smart as well as really strong, mixed with his powers. It’s a fun character to play because you know that he’s released by Snart from the prison truck and he’s spent the rest of the time going, “Okay, this Flash guy is ruining all of my plans. If I can’t defeat him, I won’t be able to get what I want.” So, he’s redirected his immediate needs towards stopping The Flash, so that he can take over and run things and get his vengeance. During that time, with all of this stuff that’s been happening to The Flash, after Zoom, The Flash looks like he’s vulnerable, and more vulnerable than he’s been in awhile, and Mark has been studying that. And then, you’ve got a tactical mastermind in Snart and a complete wild card in The Trickster. In his mind, with his leadership, as he sees it, Snart’s genius, and The Trickster’s madness, he’s going to be able to formulate a plan that’s unexpected and effective. You can take The Flash when he’s weak, at a time when people have let their guard down a bit, and hit him hard. That’s how he steps in. He goes, “Let’s do this now. This is the right time.”
Does Mark realize what he’s getting into with these guys?
McINTYRE: Not at all. Not even a bit. It’s one of the most exciting parts of the episode. It’s like Rogues: The Early Years. You get a sense of what the Rogues will be, whenever that happens. You get a group of people, specifically these three characters, who are very confident, arrogant and very able to do the things that they do best, but they also have a sense that they need each other to get some of the big jobs done. Individually, they don’t have the full package. They have this broken, messy family relationship. They kind of get on and are trying to, but they also want to be the one in charge with the biggest sway. It’s a very tense environment, the whole time. Even when you’re on the same side, you don’t know if somebody will change or change the plan. So, going forward, it’s really exciting to have this dynamic between the character where they kind of want to work together, but they’re really bad at it. Every time they come together, you never know what they’re going to get. That always makes good viewing, and it makes for interesting stories. They should actually team up, but that’s surprisingly hard because they want different things. So moving forward, as they try to unite, it will be really difficult, but pleasantly fun to watch, as they come together and fall apart.
I would imagine that it goes a little smoother as characters than as actors, but how is the experience of working with Wentworth Miller and Mark Hamill?
McINTYRE: The most surreal moment in my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever told this story, but Wentworth Miller was in Prison Break and when I started acting, the first paid job I got was for something called Prison Break Live. It was like the scare mazes that they have for Halloween, but themed about Prison Break, for whatever reason. So, I have this weird connection to Wentworth Miller. And then, when I was going for Spartacus, the first thing I saw, after I was told, “Oh, you did a good audition,” was “Wentworth Miller to be the next Spartacus.” I was like, “Wow!” And then, the last thing that happened before I got Spartacus was that Dominic Purcell was going to be the new Spartacus, the weekend before I got it. So, I was finally meeting Wentworth Miller and going, “You don’t understand, I’ve had a real big experience with you.” He’s the sweetest, most intelligent guy. We had some wonderful character conversations about really sophisticated stuff. There’s a reason his character is so loved and so good. The guy has really broken it down, and it shows. It’s really cool.
And with Mark, it’s Mark Hamill. I had a year where I got to work with John Cleese, Mark Hamill, Antonio Banderas and Sir Ben Kingsley, so I’m good. That’s so many of my childhood icons that I can’t even tell you. What I didn’t realize is that Mark is an absolute comic book genius. He’s read them all, he’s got them all, and he knows them all. The first conversation we had was basically like, “So, you’re The Weather Wizard and I’m The Trickster. The relationship we’ve got is this and this. And here’s the relationship we’ve got with Captain Cold.” We were talking about all of the iconic imagery. He’s amazing! And then, as we got to know each other during the show, I learned that he’s just the most lovely guy. It would be two in the morning and he’d be waiting outside his trailer just because there was a group of people that wanted to meet him. He gives up his time so freely. He’s just such a nice man. As a child, you watch Luke Skywalker, who’s this kid who becomes a hero. And then, you meet Mark Hamill and he’s everything you wish he would be, and that’s exciting.
How is it to work with the special effects on this show, especially with your character’s powers not being there?
McINTYRE: It feels really strange to a guy who had done Spartacus for a number of years, where everything was physical and for real. You’re actually hitting people and swinging swords. Now, it’s like, “Do something with your arms and lightning will come out.” I remember the first episode that I got, I have a piece of paper where I wrote down every single arm action for every single weather formation I could think of. I was like, “Okay, this means rain, that means storm, that’s a hurricane, that’s lightning.” I figured that he should have a system, like a bunch of sign language, that makes weather happen. Because I’m so used to a show that had a lot of special effects, but was really visceral and physical, one of the first things I had to do was figure out how to launch a lightning bolt at somebody. I was like, “Do we have the technology to do this? Is this going to look good?” And then, watching that episode, specifically, I was like, “Oh, my god, that looks amazing!” I don’t know how they do it, but The Flash special effects for television are stunning.
Going into this episode, I get to do some new tricks with powers that I haven’t displayed before, which is exciting. But I’m like, “Don’t give me too many because then you won’t be able to afford me anymore with too many special effects!” I get to do a bunch of really cool stuff in this episode, from where they’re going with my powers, and I want to continue because it’s fun. I have to remind myself that it’s not real. For a minute, I’m like, “Do I have superpowers?” It’s the 10-year-old brain where, for a second, you truly believe you have superpowers, but it takes over a hundred people to make that happen. But for one second, I was like, “I don’t want to alarm you, but I actually may have superpowers.” That feeling has got to be the coolest feeling in the world. I’m more used to having superpowers now. I’m not as awe-struck by it. But, there’s some really cool stuff in this episode. The Flash does this really cool thing that’s straight out of the comics in this episode. It’s really awesome!
The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW.